Monday, December 31, 2012

Bring on the Light!

"What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
John 1:3-5

There seems to be something especially "dark" about December 31. True, we are in the darkest part of our year--the days have just begun getting longer, minute-by-minute. But in the vein of "it is always darkest before the dawn," we think of New Year's Day as a new dawn, don't we? Tomorrow dawns a new year, a fresh new start. What does that make today? I think it makes it a great day to remember the Light. This Light that shines in the darkness and the darkness can never win. The Light of Jesus! The Light is still fresh and new in the manger. The Light can fill us with something special even before tomorrow's turn of the calendar. If we get a chance today, let's take some quiet time and ponder the many gifts the Light has brought into our lives. Let's be thankful for all the times of darkness we may have experienced this past year that didn't swallow us up, but, indeed, helped us to grow. Let's ring in the new year with the knowledge that the Light we know as Jesus will always be with us. Happy, healthy, Light-filled New Year! Love, heidi

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's still Christmas!

"Let us begin by putting ourselves in the presence of the Lord..."
Fr. Patrick Foley, Parish Mission

After hearing this, we all settled in, eyes closed, putting ourselves in the presence of the Lord. And then Fr. Foley asked us. Do you ever wonder where you were a minute ago? Point taken. We are always in the presence of the Lord! We may become aware of God's presence at certain times, but we cannot leave God's presence. Ever. With Christmas Day behind us now, it is a good time to remember that we are still in the presence of the Baby Jesus. Today is only the Third Day of Christmas! Gifts have been opened, relatives may be on their way back home, but the spirit of Christmas, that is, the Christ Child is still gently sleeping in the manger. Today, many of us are returning to our pre-Christmas lives. Let's take several opportunities today to revel in the Infant Jesus, who still coos in Mary's arms. Love, heidi

Friday, December 21, 2012

Arise my beautiful one!

"Christmas is the promise that the God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

But, perhaps, not today. I woke up this morning, not to the end of the world, but to the dogs who wanted their breakfast. So, I guess the world didn't end. I really didn't think it would, did you? Throughout history, it seems, when people seem to think they know what is going to happen, they find out they don't. We don't know what is going to happen and if we spend too much time trying to figure it out and prepare for it, we will lose precious time living in the present. So, as the shortest day of the year dawns in east Idaho, I know only a few things...I am given this day as a gift. I know that Jesus is beside me every second of this day and God loves me more than I could ever fathom. I know that, being given so much in my life, I want to share with others and help ease burdens others may carry on their journey. And, I know that I have such an awesome gift of family and friends to walk the journey with me. And that is about all I know. And, surely, it is enough! Love, heidi
PS: I will be taking a few days off next week, so will take this opportunity to wish you all a blessed Christmas! As it says in Song of Songs, "Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!" Come Baby Jesus!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?

"Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about...lights, please?"
Linus, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
I admit it. I went to Catholic school for six years and a Catholic college for one year and what I learned about the Christmas story, I learned from Linus. I remember, as a kid, watching a Charlie Brown Christmas. It came out in 1965, and I was nine. It was a cartoon. It was cute. But, eventually, Linus reciting Luke 2:8-14, in his sweet, little kid voice stuck with me. "For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy..." and the way he said "joy" was just so dear. And the message stuck with me too. Charlie Brown had lost the whole point of Christmas. He was sad that no one sent him a card and his friends were still unfriendly to him. That is, until Linus explains it all. It is that time of the season when we may wonder what Christmas is all about. It may be frustrating. Or sad. Or lonely. Or maybe, thankfully, just hectic. But, please, I ask you...please sit down and read Luke 2:8-14. I bet you can remember it in Linus' little kid voice. "And that is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Amen. Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hope is born!

"When Jesus Christ is born in me, hope burns brightly and everything else fades into twilight."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

Faith, hope and love. We hear about the virtues and, for me, faith and love are so much clearer to recognize than hope. Hope is born at Christmas. When all else seems to be coming apart at the seams, it is hope that can move us forward. A few years ago, when the economy began tumbling down, there was hope that it would turn around. When someone is diagnosed with an illness, we cling to hope that they can recover. When one door closes to us, we have hope that something new and wonderful may be just around the corner. Hope keeps us going, giving us the will and strength to move one foot before the other. At Christmas time, we remember, thus re-birth Jesus into our world. We make Jesus present, right here, right now (remember Sr. Kathleen's lesson?) Jesus, made present anew, gives us a fresh dose of hope. The days are moving toward the shortest day of the year, when darkness seems to envelop us. We have hope that as soon as Sunday or Monday, there will be another minute of daylight in our day! The time of darkness will ebb away, minute by minute and light will linger! Hope. I guess it isn't so hard to recognize after all. Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jesus resides there...

"I believe that the single most important consideration during the sacred season of Advent is intensity of desire...An intense inner desire is already the sign of (Jesus') presence in our hearts."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

When I read this today the song that ran through my mind was "We Need a Little Christmas," or, as it played in my head, "We need a little Jesus, right this very minute." This particular Advent, with these horrific shootings in our country, it's not even that we want Jesus; the fact is that we desperately NEED Jesus. Maybe our sadness this particular Advent drives that point home. Jesus isn't a luxury. Jesus is a necessity. And the good news for us is the second sentence...our intense desire for Jesus means we already have Jesus. The ache in our hearts for those who suffer is because Jesus resides there. In our hearts. And Jesus is sad, too. Let us join our Jesus-filled hearts together today and pray for all who suffer sadness this day. Love, heidi

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our God weeps...

"Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family. It is impossible to explain the horror to ourselves and to our survivors. We need to hold each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes and say, 'I am sorry.'"
Maya Angelou

There are no words that can adequately describe how we, as a country, feel about the tragedy in Connecticut. We are a family, the family of God, and our family members have been killed senselessly. We know our compassionate God weeps with us and for us. There is no vessel that could hold all the tears. Our response to this tragedy can be prayer for all involved and an increase in compassion for all who we encounter on our journey. Life is fleeting and so fragile. Dear God, please hold the suffering in your arms. Love, heidi

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayer-feel the love!

"The most precious moments of prayer consist in letting ourselves be loved by the Lord."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

I had something completely different to write about today, but, when I read this I completely changed gears. Just sitting and basking in the love of God is one of the most powerful and beautiful experiences I've had in the last several years. And it was relatively new to me. I previous thought prayer was about me talking to God...and talking...and talking! Kind of like I do with humans! But a real change occurred when I began learning silent/centering/contemplative prayer. I began to try to listen to the still, small voice of God. My prayer can still get so cluttered with intentions, but I always try to give equal time to just silent stillness. I try to turn off my head and listen with my heart. What's that? A tiny little whisper of love and peacefulness. The love of God can be overwhelming and yet, so quiet. In the hustle and bustle that is life this weekend, let's still ourselves and just revel in God's love! Love, heidi

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scripture that works!

"I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, Fear not, I will help you.'"
Isaiah 41:13

Through the years, this has become one of my favorite scripture passages. Because it works. Works? you can it "work?" Well, I really don't know how...just that it does. This scripture was given to me at a time I needed it most and it really helped me. We all know that fear is not of God, but it still creeps in from time to time. I combat fear with this verse. It reminds me that I am not alone in any situation that may seem daunting to me. It lets me know that help is right there at the end of my right hand is being held by the One who loves me more than I could ever imagine and who knows the end of the story. The One who knows how it all will work out. And it will all work out. This is one scripture I have committed to memory. Because it works! Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe

"Sometimes God's face must be feminine. Maybe it is only 'the Woman' who will be able to heal the wars, mistrust and status symbols that divide the children of God."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Our Lady of Guadalupe"

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on which we commemorate that day in 1531 when Our Lady appeared as a young brown-skinned woman to Juan Diego in Mexico. Prior to that time the Christian missionaries had little success converting the native Indians to Christianity. But, this beautiful Lady spoke to Juan Diego in his own language and miracles began to happen. Roses appeared in December. Her picture appeared on his cloak. Within just a few years, thousands of people believed in the miracles, the Lady, and most importantly, Her Son, Jesus. It took a Lady, the Mother of God to help the people realize that Jesus is their Savior. And she continues to lead people to her Son today. Today may we appreciate the beauty that is within all cultures. May we celebrate the rich, amazing culture of the Hispanic people and celebrate with them, Our Lady of Guadalupe! Viva!
Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Comfort and joy...

"Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God."
Isaiah 40:1

When God gave this message to the prophet Isaiah, the world was messed up for the Jewish people. When we read this message as part of today's readings, we may feel it was written for us here in 2012. It is a timeless message, this message from Isaiah. We may come across people on our path today who need comfort...or a kind word...or encouragement...or a shoulder to lean upon. It would be so wonderful if we could take Isaiah's message into our own hearts today and LIVE it! "Comfort, give comfort to my people!" Let's keep this in mind today and be vigilant, looking for those who may need a bit of comfort. The holidays aren't always a happy time for folks. It can be a very difficult time for those who have lost a loved one, who are alone, or who are struggling through the harsh stuff of life. Let's let comfort and compassion reign in our hearts today! Love, heidi

Monday, December 10, 2012


"Jesus does not ask us to wait until later, until the end, for help and healing. Hope is the good news of transforming grace now."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

I have never been a good wait-er (i.e. person who waits). When I was a kid, the anticipation of Christmas was almost too much for me! My mom always had an Advent calendar for me to open each little window to mark off the time until Christmas. And by Christmas I was usually so worked up I'd get sick and miss much of the festivities. So, thus, I am not a good wait-er. It is a relief to me, then, to read that Jesus isn't making me wait until the end of time or until my own death or until tomorrow even. Jesus wants to live fully in my heart right NOW! And, just like the feeble wait-er that I am, I refuse to wait a second longer! Jesus, come alive in my heart today! Look out of my eyes and see what I need to do in this space, in this time, to help you today. Walk in my shoes and guide me to who needs a bit of you today. Speak with my voice to say whatever someone may need to hear. I love you, Jesus, and I want you now! Love, heidi

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy 100th!

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."
Matthew 7:24

One hundred years ago today, my dad, Stewart "Mickey" Gainan was born! His name was actually Stewart Woodrow Gainan, after newly-elected president Woodrow Wilson, but people called him Mickey most all his life. The legend was that, as a lad of six, he delivered newspapers downtown, followed by a dog whose name was Mickey. So people on the paper route called my dad "Mickey" and it stuck. Dad is celebrating his 100th birthday in heaven today and I know that because he was a man who built his house on rock, just like Jesus described in this Gospel. My dad was a faithful Catholic as well as a kind and compassionate man. He went out of his way to help people--out of their way, too, as the story was often told that Dad would help Herman, the blind newspaper vendor, across the street--even if he didn't want to go. My dad mirrored God's love to me. Forty-three when I, his only child, was born, Dad showered me with unconditional love. I could do no wrong in his eyes. Thanks be to God I had a mother who was more down-to-earth or I would have been incorrigible! My dad was a singer, dancer, gentleman, and only finished the eighth grade in school. He was devoted to St. Jude, who successfully got him out of basic training in the army. He taught me everything I know about God's vast and wonderful love...firsthand. Happy 100th birthday, Dad! Thank you for showing me what building a house on solid rock looks like! Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jesus fed them all!

"Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds."
Matthew 15:36
This miracle of feeding the multitude was a fore-shadowing of Jesus giving us his very self in the Eucharist. This crowd had been with Jesus for three days and Jesus had cured their illness and disabilities, but it doesn't say anything in the reading about Jesus forgiving their sins, as such. Still, Jesus fed them. And Jesus didn't put any conditions on this meal. He didn't just feed the "good" people. (Jesus didn't just feed the "good" people at the Last Supper either!) Earlier in the reading, Jesus told the disciples his heart is moved with pity for the crowd. (v. 32) The crowd, in the state of their very humanness, moved Jesus' heart. Yes, Jesus fed their growling stomachs, but Jesus also fed their sagging spirits. Jesus is the nourishment we need in our weak human condition, sinners, are we all. We cannot make ourselves worthy of Jesus, though we can prepare our hearts and minds to be open to Jesus' coming. Jesus tells that, the way to welcome him, is to welcome the stranger. The way to care for Jesus is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and embrace the un-embraceable. Wonderful food for our Advent journey! Love, heidi
(Reminder: today is the last day of the parish mission! 9:00 AM at Holy Rosary, 7:00 PM at Christ the King)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm ready!

"I'm ready for my presents!"
Miss Piggy, "All I Need Is Love"
I was praying in the church before the beginning of the parish mission last night. This line from Miss Piggy came from a song off a new Christmas album I got...Ceelo Green sings this song with the Muppets, and Miss Piggy is singing in the background, "I'm ready for my presents!" My version, during my prayer, was the same only spelled differently. "I'm ready for my P-r-e-s-e-n-c-e!" I prayed. The mission was amazing and wonderful and I can hardly wait to return tonight. One of the most powerful things I learned from Fr. Patrick Foley was that God frees us through unconditional love and wants us to love others into freedom, too. Such a wonderful message as we begin Advent! The love that God gives us is not based on what we do, but because of who we are--God's precious children. God asks that we love others the same way, unconditionally and giving them the freedom to be their best selves. We may not agree with them on everything, and that is OK. But loving others is what God asks us to do, and that doesn't mean loving them for what they can do for us or expecting them to earn our love. As we are loved freely by God, we are asked to love others. And that is a beautiful mission. Love, heidi

Monday, December 3, 2012

Come, Lord Jesus!

"The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah..."
Jeremiah 33:14

Thus begin the readings of Advent! And the theme of Advent is waiting. Jeremiah prophesies the promise of God being fulfilled and the waiting begins. So, what, exactly, are WE in 2012 waiting for? We had a wonderful homily from our visiting priest, Fr. Patrick Foley, who is here to do a mission for our parish this week. He asked this very question. What are we waiting for? He pointed out that, yes, Jesus is coming at the end of time, so that is something to wait for, but possibly not our immediate waiting-for event right now. And we are not waiting for Jesus to be born in a manger again...that happened two thousand years ago. While we commemorate it, we aren't waiting for that to happen again. We ARE waiting for Jesus to come, personally, into our lives. We must stay awake, alert, and aware to recognize Jesus. Isn't that fabulous? In today's Gospel, the centurion says, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." (Matthew 8:8) But, my response to Jesus coming to my life this Advent is different. Yes, I am not worthy, but I say, Come, Lord Jesus, and please hurry! Love, heidi
(Reminder to all in Idaho Falls! The Mission begins today...9:00 AM at Holy Rosary, or 7:00 PM at Christ the King)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent--coming right up!

"It is our tradition to believe that when we 'remember' we make present once again."
Sr. Kathleen Wood, On-Going Formation Advent reflection
OK, I admit that I wasn't excited about Advent this year. For one thing, it is coming around too fast anymore (didn't I just put the Christmas decorations away?) And another thing, I had a hard time getting psyched up for the waiting, longing, the here-we-go-again of another attempt to grow spiritually. And then I read this. Sr. Kathleen was my spiritual director when I last went on retreat and she is a wise woman! And she puts new perspective on this Advent for me. It's not about going through the usual Advent motions another time. When we remember, we make present. This Advent offers a new Presence, a new Incarnation of the Christ Child for us, unlike any other year! Our remembering the first birth of Jesus allows us to "re-birth" him in our hearts, all fresh and new. It's not the same ol', same ol' at all! This Advent is unique and new, unlike anything we have ever experienced or will ever experience again. The opportunities are endless! So, thankful for this fresh perspective, I will delve into Advent, anew, this Sunday! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feasting is prayer!

"Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb."
Revelation 19:9

This reading, today, coincides perfectly with my chapter on feasting in Fr. Ed Hays' "Pray All Ways!" Feasting has been part of the spiritual experience of humans ever since Adam and Eve feasted on the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Fr. Ed points out that, throughout Jesus' life, he feasted, fed the multitudes, and, finally, during his last meal with his disciples, he gave his very self for their nourishment. Fr. Ed also points out that we are losing the art of feasting, with our drive-thru windows and our hurry-up lifestyles. Meals should be shared and enjoyed and not necessarily with the evening news. Feasting is prayer when people are gathered, lovingly-prepared food is shared, and stories are told, and the prayer continues when the dishes are washed and dried together, as the conversation continues. The next time we gather for a meal with others, let's be aware of the prayer that it certainly can be! Praying a mindful grace before the meal, enjoying community during the meal, and joining hands together in the clean-up are all part of prayerful feasting! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Perfectly seasoned...

"The real saint proclaims the taste of God in all of life and not the taste of the saint."
Fr. Ed Hays, "Pray All Ways"
In this chapter on feasting and fasting as prayer, Fr. Ed Hays talks about how the salt on our food should enhance the taste of the food; you shouldn't actually taste the salt itself. Similarly, our spiritual actions or disciplines should emphasize God and not us. It makes so much sense to me, but still is such a radical concept. When I was in college, I would come home at holidays and visit one of my teachers, Irish Sister of Mercy, Sr. Evangelist. She was the one who first called me "Heididear," remember? One Christmas holiday I had my visitation with Sr. E and she asked, "What are you doing for Advent, Heididear?" "Advent?" I exclaimed, "You mean I have to do something for Advent AND Lent?" I was aghast at the thought of any type of self-sacrifice or spiritual discipline twice a year! But, as we ponder any special Advent activities (Advent begins Sunday!) let us remember Fr. Ed wisely telling us that our activities must not be about us. Any spiritual discipline should enhance God and not enhance ourselves. You shouldn't taste the should only enjoy the well-seasoned food. Love, heidi

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Simple Monday," not Cyber Monday!

"Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?"
Isaiah 55:2

Well, here we are! In the midst of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. The Christmas consumer machine is in full gear. So fittingly, the chapter I am reading today in "Pray All Ways" is the chapter on living simply. Fr. Ed Hays uses this scripture from Isaiah to point out that all of our consumerism will not bring us any more satisfaction than in Isaiah's time. We can buy into the consumer machine and then sit there, on the first of January, and wonder where the happiness is. Fr. Ed suggests pulling out an old photo album and thumbing through the pages of it. There, is what is truly important to us. In most cases, we won't see pictures of stuff (although I remember taking pictures of a new-to-us car once). We will see pictures of people. It is the people in our lives that are important to us, not the stuff we accumulate at an alarming rate. The stuff we gather as we buy into the signs of the season will not bring us happiness. In fact, just the opposite is true. Unnecessary stuff is a pulls us down and swallows us up. It does not bring us closer to God. Today, let's really ask ourselves, as Fr. Ed suggests, "Do I really need this? Am I a robber baron if I store away what another might be able to use?" Let's strive to live more simply! (Just as I was typing this I got an email..."Your Amazon Order has Shipped!") Lord, help me! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Praise God!

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluia!"
Psalm 150:6

The Psalms end with praise. This is the very last verse of the very last Psalm and it ends in fitting! Soon we will all be sitting down to big Thanksgiving meals with loved ones. Such a wonderful time of love is this time of Thanksgiving! Before the Christmas machine revs up into action, let's make sure we devote some time to praising our God...our Divine parent, who loves us more than we could ever imagine. There is no end to God's showering us with gifts and signs of love. There is no end to the goodness and mercy of God. So, as we celebrate family and friends, let us take time to thank the Source of all good! Alleluia! And Happy Thanksgiving to all! Be safe if you travel! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Come down quickly!

"When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
'Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay
at your house.'"
Luke 19:5

Zacchaeus may have been a despised tax collector, thus villain, in Jewish society, but not to Jesus. Jesus saw something in Zacchaeus that touched his heart...Jesus saw a man who wanted to get closer to him. You remember the story...Zacchaeus was a little short fellow who was a wealthy tax collector. Jesus was surrounded by a crowd and Zacchaeus was too short to get a good look, so he climbed a tree in order to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus beckoned him down from the tree and invited himself to Zacchaeus' house for dinner! In the end, Zacchaeus' encounter with Jesus caused him to give up his evil ways and repay the people he had cheated. He was redeemed by his encounter with Jesus.  As are we. We all may need to, metaphorically, climb a tree to get closer to Jesus, Friends! What must we put aside in our busy lives to get closer to Jesus? What must we climb to see Jesus better? We may need to go out on a limb...
Love, heidi

Monday, November 19, 2012

Embrace the unembraceable

"The words and gestures of Francis are manifestations of a soul completely surrendered to God."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"
I love this today.  Brennan Manning talks about how St. Francis embraced everything...from nature and critters (they were his brothers and sisters) to the people of his time, some of whom were frankly, hard to love.  Francis embraced all and served all.  He was able to overlook the faults and failings of others and embrace as we are all called to do.  And, the way Francis was able to do this was through his complete surrender to God.  This is such a lesson for us, Friends! As we prepare to gather around the heavily-laden table of thanksgiving, we can take such a rich lesson from St. Francis. We can realize our place in God's world, as friends and lovers of nature.  And we can realize that it is not our job to judge each other, but to embrace each other, as Francis did.  Love, heidi

Friday, November 16, 2012

A list to live by...

"Whoever loses his life will save it."
Luke 17:33

I'm the type of learner who loves a list. Give me a nice list of things and I will memorize it and feel I really learned something! In today's reflection in "The Word Among Us," there is a wonderful list...a "spiritual wardrobe," they call it. Wearing these "outfits" in our everyday life will make us well-dressed for any occasion!
First, "keep your conscience clear." I need to try and behave myself, for cryin' out loud! As simple and obvious as it sounds, I do struggle so with people, I can easily act irritable and cold. Gotta work on that. Second, "love others." Again, isn't this a given? Not necessarily. It's hard to love people when they bug us. But, that is what makes it worthwhile. It's like baseball, if it was easy everyone could do it. ("A League of Their Own") And third, "stay close to Jesus." The way I see it, this one is necessary for us to even have half a chance at the other two. So, this will help me today, maybe it will help you too. Memorize this list, and, if you find yourself getting aggravated at anyone, go through it in your head...does it help? Blessings on your weekend! If you are traveling, God go with you! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wake up to the journey!

"The Kingdom of God is among you."
Luke 17:21

It is interesting to ponder this in today's gospel (Luke 17:20-25). What did Jesus mean exactly? I think Jesus means that we need to wake up and smell the coffee. We can't live in the past and we can't live in the, the here and now, is what we have and we shouldn't miss the beauty of now. In "Pray All Ways," Fr. Ed Hays talks about going on a pilgrimage. "We are called to be pilgrims, for that is what we really are anyway; all our life is but a journey to the Holy, whom we call God." Each step of the journey is important. There may be highlights along the way--special sights to see, experiences, people. But each step we take has significance for the overall journey. If we are only awake and alert for the big attractions, we may miss something amazingly special on a humdrum Thursday in November. God has given us each moment of our lives as gift. Today, let's make sure we relish that! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Praying with our noses!

"What can we do, you might ask, if we wish to awaken our sleeping noses and learn how to pray with them?"
Fr. Ed Hays, "Pray All Ways"

Pray with our noses? Are you kidding me? One of the most distinctive memories I have is that of incense in church. I remember my dad and I visiting each Catholic church in Billings on Holy Thursday night for Adoration, and the lingering smell of incense. When we think about it, smells can trigger many memories for us and those smells and memories can draw us into prayer. I jotted down a few "smell memories" that can make me pause and smile...I invite you to do the same today!
The air after a cleansing rain
Applesauce cooking in the crock pot
Bread, cookies, or anything like that baking
Coffee brewing
Fresh Christmas trees
A baby's head
I slept with son Blaine's tee shirt after he left for college, because it smelled of him.
Everyday various aromas fill our noses, but we may not think of them as prayer. If they take us back to a joyous time or remind us of Home, they can indeed draw us closer to God. Fr. Ed Hays suggests adding incense to our prayer time, so my little place is filled with a tiny waft of a beautiful smell this morning! Today, let's be aware of the aromas around us and thank God mightily for the gift of our nose! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prayer of tears

"Tears are the prayer-beads of all of us, men and women, because they arise from a fullness of the heart."
Fr. Ed Hays, "Pray All Ways"

Yesterday's lesson on praying all ways was about praying with the eyes...taking in all of God's glorious creation and appreciating that beauty. So, I went down to the Greenbelt and took a walk. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was a beautiful blue. My prayerful eyes took it all in, and my response to this moment of pure Presence of God was today's prayer form--the Prayer of Tears. Fr. Ed Hays says that our tears are prayers...powerful prayers! Our tears come from deep inside us and are not under our control. They are spontaneous and not-formulated, like our more formal prayers. They are not of our conscious doing but come from deep within our heart and soul. Prayerful tears are cleansing and can come from sorrow and joy...but, the point is that we allow them to come! I can think of so many times when the prayer of tears just took me over and the freedom of this prayer form made me feel closer to God. So, praying with our eyes involves what our eyes take in--God's beautiful creation, as well as what our eyes let out--the tears of our heart. Love, heidi

Monday, November 12, 2012

Praying with the eyes...

"Eyes are the prayer books of the mystics..."
Fr. Ed Hays, "Pray All Ways"

Fr. Ed Hays, today, urged me to pray with my I was drawn to the river and a walk around the Greenbelt.  Everything I saw was prayer-worthy! The bare, naked trees made visible many bird nests--summer homes of many of the birds who have now gone south (if they are wise!)  The sun shone brightly and the cold, crisp air nipped my face, but the walk was beautiful and I had a grand time of prayer. We need to open our eyes and see the glory of God right in front of us. I was overwhelmed with the Presence as I walked along, taking in the nearly-winter day. Love, heidi

Friday, November 9, 2012

The gifts of winter...

"A natural spirituality seeks a return to that ageless friendship with creation that shows itself in a reverence for all nature."
Ed Hays, "Pray All Ways"

I have decided, this morning of an early snow, to make a conscious effort to embrace winter this year. I usually struggle so with winter, much preferring spring and summer, but I am realizing that we cannot have the new birth of spring without the death and rest of winter. Instead of battling against the winter chill, I am going to welcome it. The earth needs a rest...bears need to nap, trees needs to shed their tired leaves and grow new ones. The ground needs to rest frozen and the earth greatly needs the moisture of winter--snow. And I, as a human, need to rejoice in the very season I seem to struggle with more every year. The shorter days signal our bodies to rest. The cold temperatures can invigorate us and wake us up. God created this cyclical dying and rebirth and it is a wonderful thing!
Lord, please help me to embrace the coming of winter. Help me to appreciate the beauty of the naked trees and frozen earth. Help me to revel in the snow you send to water the world. Help me to appreciate the gifts of winter! Amen! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Praying is living...

"Praying is living."
Henri Nouwen, "With Open Hands"

Such a simple, and yet profound, statement. I remember, as a kid, learning to say my prayers. Time was set aside, before I went to bed, to say my prayers. I learned the "Our Father," "Hail Mary," and "Glory Be," and they were followed by intercessory prayers (I can still remember praying for "GrammaKatieRogers," all one word). Gradually, as I grew in faith, the prayers got more spontaneous and conversational. And, as a grown up, the command of Jesus to "Pray always," (Luke 18:1) has led me to this quote from Henri Nouwen, "Praying is living." How is our living prayer? Our living can be prayer if we think of it as a gift. Our lives can be a prayer of thanksgiving if we live joyfully and mindful of the good that we are. Our lives can be a prayer of service if we seek God's grace in all we are given to do. Our work is prayer as we do it faithfully and conscientiously. Our rest is prayer; as we drift off to sleep, secure in God's arms. Being aware that our living is prayer may keep us from saying unkind things about what we are about to say worthy to be called prayer? Are the words we say or even the thoughts we think prayerful? Tough call, that! Today, let's think about how our lives are, heidi

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Of forgiveness and a better past...

"...nobody is perfect. You just have to close your eyes and breathe out and let the puzzle of the human heart be what it is."
Lily Owens, "The Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd
"The puzzle of the human heart..." that is an amazing description, isn't it? I recently re-read this beautiful book and what jumped out at me this time are two being forgiveness. (The other one is freedom--for another day). Lily's mother left her as a little child and she struggled with that throughout her fourteen years. She couldn't allow herself to believe that her mother did it intentionally, but that her absence was a forced separation...what mother would ever leave her child? But, faced with the facts...her mother had actually left her behind, Lily was angry. Her anger was tempered somewhat by finding out the truth about her mother's leaving; her mother was completely mentally undone and she sought refuge away from Lily's father--not necessarily Lily. Pondering this, Lily thinks this beautiful thought above. Gradually, in life, we must realize we can't control the past. We may not have much control of the future, either, but we sure can't control the past. The human heart is a mystery we cannot explain or change. What we need to do is try to have compassion for what we may not understand. Human beings are puzzling creatures and they can't always be explained. But, by opening our hearts with compassion, we can try to connect with people as Jesus did. Love, heidi

Monday, November 5, 2012

Love your neighbor...

"At the moment that you fully realize that the God who loves you unconditionally loves all your fellow human beings with the same love, a new way of living opens itself to you. For you come to see with new eyes those who live beside you in this world."
Henri Nouwen, "With Open Hands"

This fits in well with yesterday's gospel (Mark 12:28-34) about loving God AND loving our fellow humans. It is a wake-up call for us to realize the very people who drive us crazy are beloved children of God...too. Picturing them in the loving embrace of God may help us to open up to their good qualities a little more. In my Joan Chittister reading for today she quotes Thomas a Kempis, who said, "Be assured that if you knew all, you would pardon all." (Joan Chittister, "The Psalms") We don't know the back-story of everyone we meet. We don't know the difficult road they may be traveling or the earnest zeal they may have for doing things. We may just know they bug us. But, as St. Mark says in yesterday's gospel, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," (Mark 12:31) and as Nouwen says here, "You will come to see with new eyes...", and Kempis also says, ..."you would pardon all," we are to give everyone love. That may seem very difficult to us today, but it is what we agreed to do when we decided to follow Christ. So, what does that look like in our day today? Love, heidi

Friday, November 2, 2012

Share the love!

"But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

God feels that we are worth dying for. And not some idealized, simonized version of us, but the real us--in our sorry, sinful state. That, really, is quite incredible, isn't it? It urges us to try to understand this unconditional love of God, that doesn't fit into our human brand of justice. In our minds, people should get what they deserve. In God's mind, love is bigger than any sin. The latter is so outrageous it is hard for us to understand. This weekend, we will have a whole extra hour! Let's spend it sitting in the stillness, contemplating this amazing love that God has for us...and wondering how we can share that love with, heidi

Thursday, November 1, 2012

No matter what!

"God, to the psalmist, is a God who feels our feelings and commiserates with them, understands them, know how they affect us and stands by while we work through them."
Joan Chittister, "The Psalms"

The beauty of God is that God knows us inside and out and loves us anyway. Somehow, along the way, we get the feeling we need to alter, change and improve ourselves for God and that couldn't be further from the truth! Now, it is true that we may need to improve how we deal with others, and God is eager to help us there! But, God made us and loves us right where we are. God wants us to grow in mercy and love...and Jesus came to show us what that looks like. But, God isn't impatient with us if we aren't exactly there yet. Just like with a young don't get angry because a two-year old can't read. You understand that skill will come in time and is part of the growth and learning process. You love that child, no matter what! Well, God loves us no-matter-what, too! Let's celebrate that this All Saints Day! Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Lord lifts...

"The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down."
Psalm 145:14

Lord, we lift up our brothers and sisters who are bowed down due to this terrible storm, Sandy. We know you cry real tears with them, as they sift through what may be left of their lives and belongings. Your compassion for all their suffering is deep. Let us be your hands and feet as we pray and offer our help for their rebuilding. Our brothers and sisters are struggling and their struggle is ours as well. Please be with all who suffer due to this storm and guide our efforts to help them. Amen.
And, as we are guided by the Holy Spirit how we can help our friends in the east, our own St. Vincent de Paul food pantry needs our help, right here in Idaho Falls, Friends. Please help! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Take off the mask!

"Jesus had harsh words for mask-wearers and pretenders. He called them by the word used for an actor who wore a mask in the Greek theater, 'hypocrite.'"
Fr. Ed Hays, "A Pilgrim's Almanac"

This week, while people don masks and hide who they REALLY are, let's ponder the idea of taking our masks off! We all wear masks...masks of competence, when we may not really be competent, masks of holiness when we may not truly act with love in our hearts, masks of devotion to God when we don't actually practice that devotion toward God's people. Jesus was so harsh with the Pharisees and holy people of his day because he could see behind their masks. He could see that the insides of their cups were dirty, but they kept the outside sparkling clean. He could see that their religion was on their sleeves, but not in their hearts. This week of mask-wearing, let's think about what we need to do to remove the masks we hide behind. How can we be more authentic in a world that rewards looking good, but not necessarily acting nice? And we'd better hurry! All Saints Day is coming up! Love, heidi

Monday, October 29, 2012

An amazing God!

"When we pray, we come out of our shelters and not only see our own nakedness but also see that there is no enemy to hide from, only a friend who likes nothing better than to clothe us with a new coat."
Henri Nouwen, "With Open Hands"

I love this! I'm learning (gradually) that prayer is relationship...a purely love relationship. And it's not like my relationship with Santa Claus--draw up a list of wants, once a year, and hope that I am good enough to receive them. It is a love relationship with one party loving more than anyone could ever imagine and the other party gobbling that up like an autumn apple cobbler, a la mode. Daughter Jeni is leaving today for Australia, to spend (their) summer months working the music festival circuit. Oh, I could make a long list of prayer requests...but my prayer today is just this: God, please be with her! The love and peacefulness wells up inside and I am so soothed by it. We love an amazing God! Love, heidi

Friday, October 26, 2012

Praying in hope...

"When we live with hope we do not get tangled up with concerns for how our wishes will be fulfilled. So, too, our prayers are not directed toward the gift, but toward the one who gives it."
Henri Nouwen, "With Open Hands"

I read this the other day and am still chewing on it. It seems that when we pray, we do have a certain outcome in mind for our requests. We would like this to happen or that...the outcome we desire. We pray, hoping what? To convince God of our desired outcome? But, what if God has a better solution? I think I am gradually growing away from praying for certain outcomes and am praying more for the strength to grow through any outcome. Life is not a straight line, a very wise friend told me once, and it is so true. But what we learn along the way is so amazing! Back to Nouwen...praying in hope is allowing for God's better idea. Praying in hope means that we can let go of our desired outcomes and allow God to fill us with whatever God desires for us. Praying in hope is more about our relationship with God, the Giver, than what we think we want or need. Hopefully, this weekend we can all take some quiet time to ponder what praying in hope means for us in our lives. Blessings on your weekend! Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Radical love...

"May we come to realize a radical dependence on the love and mercy of God."
~Sunday's homily at the Motherhouse

This, the last in the series of blogs, "Things I Learned at the Motherhouse," was so powerful to me, I pulled out pen and paper right there so I wouldn't forget a thing. The message was primarily for retreatants, sisters deep into their eight days of silence. But it is a message I need to hear regularly. "Radical dependence on the love and mercy of God..." Whoa, Nellie! The word "radical" can mean foundational or extreme and I think it means both when it comes to God's love and mercy. God's love for us is so far beyond anything we can imagine that it is very extreme. It is also foundational; it fills every, single cell that makes up our being. We can spend our time on this planet trying to please God by doing good. Or we can spend our time basking in the absolute incomprehensible love of God and do the good we do just to say "thanks." God's love for us is radical. Our dependence on that love needs to be radical, too. Bask in God's love today! love, heidi

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You are mine!

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine."
Isaiah 43:1

We did a bit of Lectio Divina this past weekend, as part of our gathering, and this was part of the scripture chosen. As I meditated on it, the phrase, "you are mine," lingered in my heart. We belong to God. Whatever or whoever else may have our attention or allegiance in this world, the bottom line is that we are God's. This reminded me of the quotation from Goethe: "All human longing is longing for God." We long and search for God because we belong to God. Our lives may get muddled and cluttered by our misplaced attachments here on earth, but God lovingly and tenderly calls us back. "I have called you by name; you are mine." That is so rich and beautiful, Friends! It sort of reminds me of the children's story about the just-hatched baby bird who goes around to several other critters saying, "Are you my mother?" We search for the fulfillment we can only find in God, who made us. God's, we are. Blessings on your Tuesday! Love, heidi

Monday, October 22, 2012

Leave everything behind...

"When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus."
Luke 5:11

I spent a long weekend with the Sisters of Charity in Leavenworth, and began that experience with Taize prayer Thursday evening. This chapter from Luke's gospel was read. The last sentence jumped out and me and I had an amazing time of reflection about it. The phrase, "they left everything and followed Jesus," played over and over in my head. What would that look like now? They literally left their livelihoods, family and friends behind and followed Jesus from town to town. If we did that today we would be considered quite irresponsible, don't you think? So, I thought of what that would mean in our world, today. It seems to mean we would leave behind anything that kept us from focusing our lives on Jesus and what Jesus taught us to do. We are to love each other and care for each other and over-involvement with ourselves and our own hang-ups would hinder us. If we are too prideful and all about what WE do and say, we surely would be hindered in our devotion to Jesus. Likewise, if we have other idols in the world, possessions, prestige, power; these would keep us from following Jesus fully. Jesus calls us to leave behind anything that gets in our way of loving God and serving God's people, because that is what Jesus has asked us to do. What does that look like in our lives? Love, heidi
View from the swing in the gazebo at the Motherhouse...such a beautiful and peaceful place!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
Galatians 5:22-23

The ills of the world are many and our influence is only tiny. But a bunch of tiny kindnesses can add up and the world can be healed one person, one incident at a time. The other day, an older gentleman kindly held the door open for me at the Post Office. As I passed through, I said to him jauntily, "Why, thank you, Sir!" "No," he said as we walked through the Post Office together, "Thank you. For calling me Sir." Sometimes the smallest gesture can make a difference in another person's day. I was grateful the man held the door for me (Hey, I'm a child of the 50's, still a bit old-fashioned) and the man was grateful he was treated with respect. It's all so little in the over-all scheme of things. But the over-all scheme of things is really just made up of a bunch of little things, isn't it? Today, let's all be aware of the strangers around us. And let's try to treat them with friends. Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Empathy and compassion

"If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
Atticus Finch, "To Kill a Mockingbird"
I just finished this book (must have read it in school, but that was too long ago!) I read and re-read this sentence over and over because it seems so appropriate to our time right now. As the days inch closer and closer to the election, this is a sentence I need to read and heed. It is so easy to get all hot and bothered by all that is going on but that serves no purpose at all. We are all human beings, trying to do our best as we spin around on this planet. We need to find more empathy for each other if things will ever get better in our world. What if we try to put ourselves in others' shoes when we disagree? What if we try to see things through eyes other than our own? Atticus Finch's advice to young Scout was worthwhile advice in the 1930's and it still is today. We need to love and respect each other. We need to empathize and compromise. We need to walk around in each others skin for a while. Love, heidi

Monday, October 15, 2012

Loving the living...

"How I treat my brothers and sisters from day to day, whether they be Caucasian, African, Asian, or Hispanic; how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street; how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike; how I deal with ordinary people in their ordinary unbelief on an ordinary day will speak the truth of who I am more poignantly than the pro-life sticker on the bumper of my car."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

Consider Jesus. Jesus didn't spend three years taking up a cause. Jesus spent his time on earth loving people. All people, from all situations and conditions...including sinners. Especially the sinners. Jesus loved people compassionately, passionately. It isn't enough just to love the people who are not here. We must genuinely love the people who are here, too. Pro-life means loving the living. It's easier to love an embryo than it is the homeless guy on the street or the murderer on death row. But we are called to love all. It's much easier to just put a bumper-sticker on our car. Love, heidi

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thank God...

"If you wish to find unity and coherence in your life, the best thing you can do is to thank God for everything."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

I can glimpse an understanding of how this works, but it is hard to thank God for the difficult stuff. By thanking God, even for the tough stuff, we show trust in God. I'm not sure that God manipulates events, but I strongly believe that God gives us what we need to get through the difficult events and bolsters us from the inside out. So, thanking God for the trials, as well as the triumphs, is such a beautiful sign of faith. I just finished reading the book "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer, and, in it, he uses an expression for feeling down--having "heavy boots." It is such a perfect expression for feeling the weight of our fears, cares, worries. So, the message I am feeling today is to thank God, even in our heavy boots. God is most certainly walking beside us and feeling the weight of our heavy boots right along with us. These heavy boots may have a lesson to teach us. They may be leading us somewhere beautiful. Thank you, God...for heavy boots. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Open your hands...

"What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so that the One who loves you can blow your sins away/"
Henri Nouwen, "With Open Hands"

I absolutely love this image. Henri Nouwen talks about our clenched fists and how we desperately cling to the dysfunctional, maybe because it is all we know. We cling to bitterness and hurts and anger and negativity because it is familiar, certainly not because it works well for us. All of this we cling to with clenched fists. He talks of coming to God, trusting God and slowly, opening our clenched fists, exposing the yuckiness we may want to hide from God. But, as in this quote, exposing it gives God the chance to blow it away, off of our hands and out of our lives. Try this if you have a moment today...close your eyes and clench your fists around your shadows--the anger you may still feel after all this time, the bitterness, the fear, even the disappointment you may feel in another. As these things come to mind, slowly, prayerfully, open your hands. Imagine God, so present there, seeing your hurts and gently blowing them off your hand. Imagine God taking your hands and caressing them. Just sit there, basking in God for a time. Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

All will be well...

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."
Julian of Norwich

There are several things that seem to be disturbing me right about now. And they all seemed to come to a head about the time I was trying to go to sleep last night. And, thankfully, I was able to pull this quote from Julian of Norwich from some deep recesses of my memory. "All will be well." Mind you, she didn't say how all will be well, but it was comforting just the same. Sometimes, in the hamster-wheel of our lives, we need to turn to a fourteenth century mystic for answers. It was such a relief to me that I didn't need to actually solve the world's problems as I tried to get to sleep! So, the next time you find yourself wallowing in the senselessness of the world and all its ills, rest assured, "all will be well..." Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What is a family?

"But he said to them in reply, 'Who are my mother and brothers? ...Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.'"
Mark 3:33, 34

Our priest on Sunday asked us an interesting question in his homily; "How do you think Jesus would define a family?" After a wonderful liturgy, we discussed the question during breakfast (that is the sign of a stellar homily!) He had given us a couple of definitions he'd found, and one jumped out at me. "A family is a loving and supportive unit." I feel a part of many families, as it happens. I told my friends right then and there that they were family to me. We talk, share and visit fairly often and I feel their love and support constantly. I have a church family, a 4th day family, even a Zumba family. A group of good friends and I share a web page at "My," where we share recipes, photos of our antics, and books we've enjoyed. That group is definitely loving and supportive...another family. I have my family of Sisters of Charity, some of whom have known me most of my life and still love me! And of course, I have my family-family...cousins in Montana and Texas and my own kids, who are the lights of my life. Family. A loving and supportive unit. So true and so God-given. Love, heidi

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wonderfully made!

"Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works."
Psalm 139: 13-14

This is one of my favorite Psalms, to be sure! I urge you to take time and read the whole thing sometime this autumn weekend. It is so easy to forget how miraculously made we are. Especially when we are constantly given the message that we aren't perfect. But, when you think about the miracle of life, and really ponder God knitting you in your mother's womb, it is stunning. And humbling. We are amazing creations, beautiful to behold, and loved into being, cell-by-cell by God. If that isn't something to celebrate I don't know what is! Today, let's rejoice that we are wonderfully made! Love, heidi

Thursday, October 4, 2012

That joy!

"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt."
St. Francis of Assisi

Happy Giovanni Francesco Bernadone Day! Say what? You ask... Well, today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who was born Giovanni Francesco Bernadone. St. Francis said so many wonderful things that we still quote constantly, even though he died in 1226. But this quote struck me today as I was looking through them. The line that particularly hit me was "Where there is poverty and joy..." It seems inconceivable that we could have poverty and joy in the same sentence, doesn't it? But I remember reading of Fr. Richard Rohr's adventures ministering to those who have so little, but, as community, they have so much joy. The second part of that sentence, "there is neither greed nor avarice," was manifested by the way the people shared every little bit they had with each other. Fr. Richard Rohr speaks of going into a village and the hosts would prepare the last chicken they had and joyfully share the feast with everyone. That is community and that is the joy that comes from poverty. Today, as we celebrate St. Francis, let us rejoice in all he found wonderful in this world...the animals, the beautiful autumn gifts around us, and the simple life, as opposed to mindless accumulation. And, above all, let's celebrate the joy of St. Francis! Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Revel in the love...

"I know well that it is so; but how can a man be justified before God?"
Job 9:1

Job asks the $64,000 question today, Friends. How indeed? Job and his kin may not have realized the scope of God's love and that is why this question would be on his mind. I thought of several answers to Job's question as I pondered it this morning. The first, obviously, is that man cannot be justified before God. But that doesn't bother God a bit. God is so totally in love with us, faults and all, that God loves us no matter what. The good things we do and the good lives we try to live are not to earn justification or acceptance from God. The goodness in our lives actually comes from God anyway. It's like if God provides us all the makings of a fabulous meal and we prepare it, using the culinary gifts God gave to us in the first place. The wonderful meal came from God, ultimately, anyway, didn't it? Consider the Eucharist for a moment. God gives us the ability to grow and prepare the bread and wine and then God turns that bread and wine into spiritual nourishment for us. It's really God's action throughout. Our part is to accept the gifts, partake of the gifts, and share the gifts with others. Our job is to revel in the infinite love of our God and try to share that with those we meet. Let's try to do that today! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The art of autumn

"Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:4

One of the most endearing traits of children is their awe and wonder at the world around them. So many things we grown ups take for granted hold a child's fascination and they truly appreciate the wonder of it all. The other night, as the nearly full moon rose over the Stillwater, the moonlight danced on the water like nothing I had ever seen before. It was awe-inspiring, to say the least. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments when we are humbled to our knees. Earlier in the day, the brilliant colors of the trees had taken my breath away. Our days may be filled with these type of moments, but we may miss them as we hurry along in our busyness. Today, let's take the eyes of a child and be ready to take in the world in awe and wonder. The autumn art show is in full swing! Love, heidi

Monday, October 1, 2012

The gifts of laughter and friendship

“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.”
A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

I spent this past weekend with dear friends on the banks of the Stillwater River. I am so awed by this opportunity for celebrating sisterhood, but there were two things that jumped out at me throughout the weekend for which I am profoundly grateful. The first was laughter. To be awakened at dawn by peels of laughter is truly a gift. I love people who can laugh uproariously at the break of day! And a second thing was the support and love of people who have known me since I was a child, accept me just as I am, and love me no matter what. That is the true gift of friendship. Today, let's thank God for the gift of good friends! Love, heidi

Thursday, September 27, 2012

St. Vincent's Day!

"We must be full reservoirs in order to let our water spill out without becoming empty, and we must possess the spirit with which we want them to be animated, for no one can give what he does not have."
St Vincent de Paul

Happy St. Vincent de Paul feast day! How handy that these wise words from St. Vincent piggyback on what we read yesterday! It absolutely makes sense that we must be filled spiritually before we can be poured out for others. We must treat ourselves kindly and compassionately in order to have more to offer others. It just wouldn't work to beat ourselves up and then go out and try to treat others well. How do we treat ourselves well, in this busy, hectic, dog-eat-dog world? First, we need to spend time with God. We need to spend time in silence with God, preferably with no other distractions (especially for those of us so easily distracted!) That time fuels us and gives us the nourishment we need to extend ourselves to others. Second, we need to treat our bodies well. We need to exercise and eat healthfully and care for our bodies. Our bodies are miracles in themselves and we can show our appreciation by treating them well! Third, we need to surround ourselves with community. We need the wisdom and nourishment of other people on our journey. Jesus had his disciples, we need our peeps, too. And finally, we need to reach out. We, who have been given so much, need to share. And in that, God is glorified. Blessings on your St. Vincent's day! Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Compassion begins at home!

"Before I am asked to show compassion to my brothers and sisters in their suffering, I am asked to accept the compassion of Jesus in my own life, to be transformed by it, and to become caring and compassion toward myself in my own failure and hurt, in my own suffering and need."
Brennan Manning, "Reflections for Ragamuffins"

Wow, that is a mouthful, but what an amazing truth! We have all heard that we can't give to others what we do not have ourselves and it is interesting to think of compassion that way. But, really, how can we know what compassion looks and feels like in our world if we do not practice it within ourselves? We learn how to give compassion by seeing and reveling in Jesus' compassion toward us. Knowing first-hand how Jesus shares our own sorrows helps us compassionately relate to others. All we have to do to recognize Jesus' compassion is to look at the cross. All of our pain, all of our suffering is right there with Jesus on the cross. We can certainly all be our own worst enemy. But, in order to give compassion out to others, we really must begin with ourselves and give ourselves a compassionate break. Love on this autumn Wednesday, heidi

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Live gently...

"Face it: there are some people you just don't like. Their chemistry and yours are a volatile mix. Christianity does not require that you elope with them: only that you live with them gently, do them no harm, wish them well--and go your own way."
Joan Chittister, "The Psalms"

Oh, if there was ever a bit of practical advice we can all use, there it is. I especially like the advice about living with others "gently." St. Paul used it too (see Colossians 3:12). Living gently means that your words are kind. Living gently means that you reign in the grudge. Living gently means that you understand that God loves them just as much as God loves you! The "do them no harm" part should be taken that you do not talk about them behind their back, not just that you refrain from decking them! And wishing them well...that is so Jesus, isn't it? Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us...we don't have to elope with them! We just may not click with everyone, that is a given. But we certainly need to live gently, do no harm and wish them all well! Love, heidi

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stretch yourself!

"No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light."
Luke 8:16

It's amazing what one can get away with if one claims no skill in a particular area. For instance, I got out of many cooking-type tasks or ministries due to the fact that I am not a good cook (I have other gifts, as the nuns say). So, cleverly, I could wiggle out of anything that required food preparation. It was a convenient out for me and I used it eagerly. But here lately, I am realizing the error of my ways and have begun to branch out a bit. We are not asked to be perfect in ministry, only faithful. We are not asked to be the best, but we are asked to try. I don't have to have the best funeral potatoes on the table, but it sure is helpful if I bring something. Light your lamps! Shine your light! Bake a cake! Stretch yourself beyond what you think you can do or think you want to do. Oh, and happy Autumn Monday! Love, heidi

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Autumn Fire Prayer

"Dance with delight, O flame of autumn fire,
as the earth, spinning and leaning away from the sun,
begins to cool from the summer heat,
and speak to me of the promise
hidden in this season of autumn.
For spring is seeded in this season of completion,
just as the giant oak exists within the acorn.

Autumn fire, orange and yellow sacrament of the sun,
light up the darkness with your dancing.
Your power is seeded in the ripeness
of the fruit and grain of this harvest season.
Great is God, whose heart is the shrine
wherein lives this whole universe;
great is your heart, my Beloved,
greater still is your unceasing love for me.

May my love for you enflame my every word of thanksgiving
to reflect the golden beauty of autumn
that the earth dons once again."
Fr. Ed Hays, "Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Love is...

"(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Many years ago, Daughter Jeni gave me a small stuffed bear. He is the cutest thing--he has on a little sweater with a heart on the front! I had the bear quite a while before I noticed his little foot had, "Love bears all things" stamped on the bottom. At the time (and even now) it strikes me as so beautiful. Pun aside, I needed to see that message then and still do each day. We go through much in our lives that baffles us, scares us, frightens us, angers get the idea. But one message to hang our hats on is "Love bears all things." I have heard that you can interchange the name of God in St. Paul's reading on love. God is patient, God is kind...and so forth. So, God bears all things, works too. And God never fails. I know that as I go through this day I will remember that little bear with the wise Truth stamped on his little foot...Love bears all things. Maybe you will too! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The greatest spiritual gift...

"...Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts."
1 Corinthians 12:30-31
"Go on," I urged St. Paul after today's cliff-hanger first reading abruptly stopped. What are the greatest spiritual gifts? I picked up the bible and read beyond today's actual reading and found the beautiful reading about Love. "If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal..." (1 Corinthians 13--you know the reading, you probably had it at your wedding!) It ends, "The greatest of these is love." (v. 13) Yes. The desire to do good we experience comes from God, but we still have the free will to do it with love. Or not. We can do good works, say the right things, even put a good message in a blog, but if we don't do it with love, it really doesn't work. The action is nullified if there isn't love behind the action. This is really tough because sometimes, we just may not feel the love. We can certainly pray often, "Lord, please fill me with your's a whole lot bigger than mine! Let my action reflect your love!" I'm sure God will be happy to oblige us there. God relies on us to spread love through the world and everything we do needs to reflect God's is truly the greatest spiritual gift. Love, heidi

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Carrying the cross

"Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."
Mark 8:34

In the movie, "Julie and Julia," Meryl Streep, as Julia Child, says a line, "But what am I to dooo?" And she stretches the word "do" out and makes it sound quite whiny. Well, this is what came to mind when I studied this gospel from yesterday. (Weird, right? Welcome to my head...) I read the scripture and thought, "I must not be doing this right because I really don't deny myself anything at all...I definitely have more than one tunic! And this cross I carry isn't heavy at fact, it is quite manageable. I'm not doing this right. I wondered if the command to carry our crosses and deny ourselves must always involve suffering. I read of Jesus in scripture and he often celebrated with friends and it wasn't all drudgery, was it? Then I remembered what the sisters told me about following your hearts desire. God puts the desire within you. God doesn't want you to be miserable fulfilling God's will. God loves a cheerful giver! We can always do better. We can look at our weaknesses and try to improve them. For me, it is to try and live simply, as per the Sisters of Charity (reduce, reuse, recycle!)  It means to do my best for my family and my dear clients each and every day. It is to help those who struggle in their lives and share all that God has given me, including the message of the Gospel. And I may not have to be miserable doing it. And that, is a relief! Love heidi

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's in a name?

"The name Mary, from the Hebrew source, means bitterness. Yet how truly, because of her love, she changed that cup of bitterness into a cup of sorrow. Her cup of sorrow overflows into a cup of compassion."
Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, "Living Faith"

Wow, I sure didn't know that the Hebrew source of the name Mary was bitterness, did you? But Mary, our Mary, did indeed, turn what could have been bitterness into compassion. God worked that miracle in her and God works that miracle in any of us who will allow it. As I shared yesterday, the lesson of this past weekend's retreat was serving as disciples in the Vincentian way...that is, to the people in the margins; the people no one else wants to serve. And a huge part of that is having genuine compassion for others. And compassion for ourselves, because, when we serve those who society marginalizes, we ourselves are enriched and our lives are enhanced. The gifts flow both ways. Mary is the Mother of Compassion. Joyce Rupp says, "When I think of the great sacrifice that compassion asks, I see Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing at the foot of the cross." (from "The Cup of Our Life") Compassion can seem too difficult when we think of it that way. But we are called to genuinely give compassion to the world, as Mary and Jesus gave compassion to the world. Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We are One...

"For we are all One in Love's Heart, now and forevermore."
~from the Taize prayer at the SCLA retreat

This past weekend, I attended the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Associate retreat. On Saturday night, we shared Taize prayer with the sisters and this particular line leaped out at me. I prayed it over and over in my mind...such a beautiful Truth. It is a particularly meaningful Truth today, as we commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the events of 9/11/01. We are, indeed, One. One with the survivors, one with the victims and one with all others, as our world has never been the same. But, for me, I want to be One in forgiveness for this tragedy, too. It is only in forgiveness that our hearts can move forward after this event, that so shattered us. As I learned on retreat, God can work miracles through our wounds and, through them, heal the brokenness of others. In fact, God can shine through our wounds and make something beautiful happen. So, today, let's clear the cobwebs of anger and bitterness that may still remain in our hearts. Let's open up and allow God to shine through the wounds of 9/11. Let's make 9/11/12 an opportunity to allow God to work through us for peace in the world. Amen. Love, heidi

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My foes?

"In your loving kindness, answer me; in your compassion, turn toward me. Do not hide your face; answer quickly, for I am in distress. Come close and save me from my foes."
Psalm 69

This is my "September Psalm," which just means that I pray it everyday and hopefully, by the end of September will have it memorized. And understood. Maybe. As I prayed and thought about this Psalm the other day, I was struck by the word, "foes." Do I have foes? Save me from my foes? I couldn't think of any people-foes, so I went a bit deeper and realized that my real enemies are within. An inability to forgive and forget, perhaps. That's a foe. Also, harsh judgments I make about others are enemies within, too. And my dismissive attitude about others' opinions. My "rightness." All of these "foes" can keep me from being the person God knows I can be. So, yes, Lord. Please save me from my foes. They're aren't at the outside gate trying to get in; they are on the inside needing to be let out. Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Only God is God...

"Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth."
1 Corinthians 3:7
Sounds like there were difficulties within the church way back in St. Paul's day...the people were squabbling about who was the better leader, Apollos or Paul. And Paul sets them straight. Neither. They need to remember to whom they belong--God and only God. Human leaders may be charismatic and fascinating. We may want to follow them because they tell it like it is, or they tell us what we want to hear. But the fact is, they are still human. When difficulties or divisions arise we may need to step out of the fray and remember; we belong to God. God is the one who deserves our allegiance. Human leaders are not God nor are religious institutions God. Only God is God. Thanks for the timely message St. Paul! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Don't miss a minute!

The other night, as I was going into the baseball game, a little cub scout was handing out Hawaiian leis for a special promotion. I was more interested in picking a color that matched my outfit, but the little scout was more concerned that I noticed the free snow-cone coupon that was attached to the lei. He was the cutest little guy in the world and he was so excited for me to appreciate the free snow-cone. The whole incident made me realize that I'd missed the whole summer. "Wow, that's a stretch," you may be saying. "How did she get there?" Well, it was late August and this was my first baseball game, and, sad to admit, I haven't even had a snow-cone yet this summer! These times and seasons of our lives go by way too fast. Are we fully engaged in these times we will look back on later? Are we taking them all in enough so we can pull them out of our memories and savor them again? Maybe the little cub scout reminded me of Blaine as a little gaffer...a time that was way too fleeting. As we begin, today, going back to real life as we know it, let's take care not to miss the moments! Love, heidi

Friday, August 31, 2012


"To listen to God, to be open only to him in the stillness, is true love."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"
The last day of August. Labor Day weekend. It all points to one thing for me. Change. Soon my backyard chapel will change colors, even though the warmth will linger for a while longer. My days have already begun to change, with school kids on my calendar now. Soon, the dizzying schedule of autumn activities...retreat, In-service, Girls' Weekend, the last unfettered trips to see friends before winter. Change. I hope and pray that I can read and re-read Fr. Wilfrid's statement here often and take it to heart. In the stillness is God. In the quiet times, squeezing out a few more afternoons reading in the sun, I can see God. I imagine God will come inside with me for the winter, but I have such a rich experience of God outside that I tend to cling to that. So, during this weekend of BBQ's, the fair, the fun and the friends, let's take one or two moments to relish a bit of stillness. And let's all be safe and pray for those who are struggling this weekend. Love, heidi

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The best gift...

"If we miss the gifts, we miss the loving presence of the God who gives them."
Fr. Kenneth Grabner, "Living Faith"
I really liked this today. I am so much more aware of the gifts I receive everyday from God, but this gives me something else to ponder. The gifts represent the loving presence of God. The true gift is the presence beyond the gift. Wow, that. Today I have a long drive to see clients in the hither-lands of Idaho. Usually this trip is Prime Time for me receiving so many wonderful gifts; the scenery, the peacefulness, the long time spent in the company of God. Today, let's be especially aware of the gifts in our day and go behind the gift to the presence of our loving God. We may enjoy the sunset, but let's enjoy the presence of God behind the sunset. Love, heidi